Medieval Japan’s Unique Interpretation of Monastic Discipline and the Precepts

May 30, 2016. By Professor Paul Groner, University of Virginia.
Medieval Japanese Buddhism was dominated by the Tendai School, but Tendai monks often were not celibate, drank alcohol, and ate meat, behaviors that were strikingly different from their Chinese and Korean counterparts. In this lecture, Professor Paul Groner, a world authority on Japanese Tendai Buddhism and East Asian vinaya (Buddhist precepts) traditions, will look at some of the doctrinal defenses Japanese monks used for these striking differences.

Como: Angry Spirits and Urban Soundscapes in Ancient Japan

April 5, 2016. By Prof. Michael Como of Columbia University
From the late seventh to the late eighth centuries, Japanese rulers built no fewer than six capitals, with the largest housing as many as 70,000 to 100,000 residents. In this paper, I will suggest that the buildings, roads and tools of these capitals functioned not simply as inert matter, but also as active forces that reshaped the ritual means by which urban residents mediated their relationship with their physical environment and with the superhuman world.

When the Himalaya Meets with Alps: International Forum on Buddhist Art & Buddhism’s Transmission to Europe

August 27, 28, 2016. Madrid, Spain.
As one of the world’s three major religions, during the long process of its transmission, Buddhism continuously disseminated Indian art across vast regions outside of South Asia. At the same time, Buddhism fused with local native cultural and artistic traditions, unceasingly creating new from the old and bringing about the development of numerous new dazzling artistic traditions. The history of the far-reaching transmission of Buddhism is an extremely important, inseparable part of the overall process of development of the arts of mankind.

Lines and Enlightenment: Chan Buddhism and Literature in Medieval China

August 9, 2016. Vancouver, Canada.
The relationship between literary and religious activities has been a lasting theme for any society of any time all over the world. One lens to see through the patterns of interactions between the religious and literary practitioners is provided by the relationship between Chan Buddhism and literature in medieval China. This one-day workshop, co-sponsored by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the UBC Buddhist Studies Forum, invites several top scholars based in China and Canada to jointly shed new light on this intriguing issue.

The Second International Conference on the Wutai Cult

July 19-24, 2016. Great Sage Monastery of Bamboo Grove, Mount Wutai, China.
Located in central China, the mountain range known as Wutai 五臺 was perceived as the new Chinese abode for the famous Indian bodhisattva, Mañjuśrī. As such, it came to be widely venerated by Buddhist believers from all over East Asia. This conference explores a plethora of trans-cultural, multi-ethnic, and cross-regional factors that contributed to the formation and transformation of the cult centered on Wutai and its dwelling bodhisattva (Mañjuśrī), as well as the “international” roles (religious, political, economic, commercial, diplomatic and even military) that the Wutai-centered cult has played in Asia and beyond.

“Compassionate Killing”: Violence in East Asian Buddhism

May 29, 2016. Vancouver, Canada.
This workshop aims to throw light on East Asian Buddhism’s involvement in warfare and other violent and semi-violent activities (e.g., military chaplains and counsellors, warriors, practitioners and promoters of the martial arts, and spices). In addition to bringing to light an important (and severely understudied) front in which the samgha (i.e., Buddhist community) intervened in the secular world, this workshop will also underscore the necessity to move beyond studying the “real situation of Buddhism” through the prism of the Buddhist precepts, which prescribed, rather than described, the circumstances under which the samgha grew and was transformed. Another aim is to study new features and patterns of state-samgha relations in East Asia.